Rodenticide Toxicity: An All-Too-Common Poisoning Seen in Dogs

ratbaitRodenticides, also known as rat bait, are commonly used by property owners and businesses to try to control a mouse or rat problem. Unfortunately, this poison is often used in the form of tasty treats to encourage its ingestion, and when dogs stumble across some of the poison it can seem like a tasty morsel for them.
There are three main classes of rodenticides:
Anti-coagulant rodenticide/Vitamin K antagonists
Vitamin K antagonists are the most commonly used rodenticide. These rat poisons cause depletion of Vitamin K, which leads to defective clotting factors. Clotting factors help the body clot blood normally, so if dogs ingest this type of poison, they can develop significant bleeding abnormalities anywhere from 3-7 days after ingestion. This can result in severe internal bleeding to a level that can be deadly. Treatment for this situation requires plasma transfusions (to replace defective clotting factors), blood transfusions (to replace the lost blood), and Vitamin K (to make the clotting factors effective until the rat poison is out of the dog’s system).


This type of rat poison causes an overdose of Vitamin D in the body, which leads to hypercalcemia (high blood calcium). Initially, signs of cholecalciferol ingestion can be as simple as decreased appetite, as well as increased urination and drinking, but left untreated this type of rat bait can lead to renal failure and death.


This last type of rat poison eventually leads to brain swelling, seizures, and death. This is the most difficult rat poison to treat.
With all rat poisons, if you know that your animal has ingested the poison, bring them to a veterinary hospital immediately. If they present within a couple hours of ingesting the poison, oftentimes emesis (vomiting) can be induced and the majority of the rat poison can be removed from their system before it causes a problem. It’s also helpful to your veterinarian to find out what type of rat poison your dog ingested as it will change the treatment approach.
If you are not sure if your dog ingested rat poison, sometimes they will have discolored blue or green stool the day after ingesting it.
And always be cautious of where rat poison might be kept. It can seem very tasty to many animals, so if your dog can reach it, your dog will most likely eat it.

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